B-vitamin supplementation reduces risk of macular degeneration

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Back in April 2008 one of my blogs focused on the nutrients which might help prevent the development of age-related macular degeneration (the most common cause of visual loss in the elderly). The blog highlights the potential of omega-3 fats and zinc to be or particular value here. However, more recently, evidence has emerged which suggests that certain B vitamins may be added to the list of potential preventers of macular degeneration.

The study in question involved more than 5500 women aged 40 or more who were treated with folic acid (2.5 mg per day), vitamin B6 (50 mg per day) and vitamin B12 (1 mg per day) or placebo for an average of more than 7 years [1].

At the end of the study women taking the supplements were at a 34 per cent reduced risk of having developed macular degeneration. Risk reduction of ‘visually significant’ macular degeneration (MD severe enough to affect vision) was 41 per cent. Both results were statistically significant. The benefits of supplementation appeared to emerge about 2 years after treatment was commenced.

One way these specific nutrients may help to prevent macular degeneration is through their ability to reduce levels of homocysteine ” a molecule that high levels of which are associated with an increased risk of this eye condition.


Christen WG, et al. Folic acid, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin combination treatment and age-related macular degeneration in women: the Women’s Antioxidant and Folic Acid Cardiovascular StudyArch Intern Med, 2009;169(4): 335-41.

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